(Originally published in the Kindersley Clarion – June 18, 2014)
The Iron Horse Kindersley Klippers netminding duties will fall squarely on the shoulders of Evan Weninger this upcoming season after the Klippers made a three-way trade that sees Eston native and goaltender Tyrell King sent to the British Columbia Hockey League.
King, 20, has been traded to the Langley Rivermen to play out his final year of junior in the BCHL. The Klippers received 19-year-old defenceman Joel Webb from the Trail Smoke Eaters. To finish the three-way deal, the Rivermen sent blue liner Viktor Dombrovskiy to the Smoke Eaters.
In King’s first year as a Klipper in 2012-13 he played 30 games, finishing with a 3.27 goals against average and 0.911 save percentage. King improved those numbers in 2013-14, playing 39 games with a 2.16 goals against average and .930 save percentage. His record as a starter was 23-13-3 with four shutouts. However, Weninger’s numbers were just as good as King’s last year. The Saskatoon native played in 20 games, earned an 11-6 record with two shutouts as a starter, had a solid 2.14 goals against average and .937 save percentage.
Weninger and King’s save percentages were fourth and fifth respectively in the SJHL regular season. Having two strong goaltenders was nice for the Klippers to have, but there was eventually going to be a tipping point and only room for one man behind the pipes.
Klippers head coach and GM Rockie Zinger had a discussion with King to let him know of the possible scenarios for the goaltender position this season, and allowed King to give his input. The Klippers need to give Weninger, who turns 18 this summer, more ice time. The Klippers would either split the job 50-50, increasing Weninger’s starts and decreasing King’s, or they would have to search for a new place for King to play where he could take on a starting position. King preferred to spend his final year as a junior on a team where he would spend the bulk of his time in the blue paint, and not on the bench.
“And I don’t blame him for that,” Zinger said. “Tyrell came here and he was amazing. He gave us two years of really productive hockey. He was pretty impressive in his run here, but at the end of the day there were two guys that needed to play more minutes and there’s only one crease.”
Zinger was not willing to move King just for the sake of moving him. In order to complete a trade it needed to fulfill two requirements. First, King had to go to a good organization where he would be the starter. That was fulfilled in the Langley Rivermen hockey club. The Rivermen lost goaltenders Brock Crossthwaite and Lyndon Stanwood, putting them on the market for a new goaltender. Second, the Klippers needed to get a good young defenceman after losing Austin Yano and Jared Pilet this offseason. They found that in Webb of the Trail Smoke Eaters.
“He’s a proven player, he’s big, he can shoot the puck, he can make a good pass, and play with a little bit of an edge. So he kind of fit the bill of what we were looking for,” Zinger said.
At 6’2” and 192 lbs, Webb adds some size to the back-end, and is a player who has good positioning on the ice, good on one-on-one situations, and will log lots of minutes. Webb is a resilient player who played in 57 games for the Smoke Eaters, the most among all of his teammates, and second in scoring among defencemen on the team with four goals and 13 assists.
The trade improves the team’s back-end for the short and long term futures. Webb will be a guy who can help the team out right away and will be around for two years. Weninger has three more years of eligibility and will look to improve his already stellar numbers with more playing time this season. Weninger will be the undisputed starter for the team this season, but expect some new goaltending talent making their way to Kindersley this off-season.
“You don’t move a player like Tyrell King unless you’re 100 per cent confident in Weninger,” Zinger said. “But we have to find a guy that’s going to push him, and we think that we’ll be able to.”